NVIDIA’s distributed success

A story of distributed work, technological innovation, and skyrocketing valuation.

Credits NVIDIA’s newsroom

This is an excerpt from Monday Dispatch a bonus publication for premium subscribers on Substack. Enjoy!

With an almost three-fold increase in valuation in the past year, NVIDIA recently joined the trillion dollar club. As Dror Poleg reported back in September, what makes the GPU manufacturer’s result even more remarkable is that they did all that while embracing distributed work.

Here’s an excerpt from an April 2022 interview with CEO Jensen Huang:

It’s possible that we’re quite comfortable working remotely and collaboratively across the whole planet. It’s quite possible that we work better actually when we allow our employees to choose when they’re most productive and let them optimise, let mature people optimise their work environment and their work timeframe and their work style around what best fits for them and their families.

Playing devil’s advocate, I asked Dror whether we would discuss this if the AI boom hadn’t happened. During the Covid-induced growth spur and hiring sprees, we saw many companies pledging to work remotely, only to backtrack as the economy shrunk. Could it be that NVIDIA hasn’t gone full return to office (RTO) merely because it’s suffering less from the current crunch than other tech companies?

Dror’s reply gets to the point of what makes NVIDIA’s story worth sharing:

The spectacular success adds to the story, but the point still stands without it: If you can develop cutting-edge hardware with a liberal office policy, you can do many other things.

We cannot access the multiverse and see how many times this remote-friendly NVIDIA has been successful compared to versions that didn’t challenge the status quo. Nor can we accurately attribute how much of the success is due to the timing of the recent AI boom vs. the productivity gains from working distributed. But that doesn’t change the remarkable fact that a hardware company at NVIDIA’s scale can find ways to innovate in a distributed world.

Again from Huang:

For example, the work around Omniverse really went into light speed in the last couple of years because we needed it. Instead of being able to come into our labs to work on our robots, or go on to the streets to test our cars, we had to test them in virtual worlds, in digital twins. And we found that we could iterate our software just as well in digital twins, if not better.

If your companies is struggling with remote work and considering enforcing RTO, take a page from NVIDIA’s book. Let mature people optimize their workday. They’ll be more productive discover new ways to iterate and innovate.

Get in touch if for tailored advice on how to go from remote mayem to distributed success.